South African government releases Integrated Resource Plan draft

Yesterday South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe released the draft of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for public comment for 60 days starting August 27.

Initiated by the Department of Energy, the IRP is considered a living plan, which aims to meet estimated power demand across specific periods in the most affordable and efficient manner. As the national electricity plan, the IRP details how the government plans to meet South Africa’s power needs until 2030.

The government’s key focus over the next decade will be renewable energy. “The electricity generation and distribution landscape in South Africa is changing at a rapid race, compared to the period before 2010. In keeping our climate change commitments, the country has also introduced renewable energy through power producers,” said Minister Jeff Radebe at a briefing held in Pretoria yesterday. “Electricity demand is therefore no longer captive to the national grid, which impacts supply and demand planning,” he added.

A least cost plan

With no further incorporation of nuclear energy, and the IRP draft document stating that it is focusing on a least cost plan, Minister Radebe said that there is no envisaged increase in terms of nuclear power and that policy adjustments had been incorporated into the proposed IRP for the period up to 2030.

Through the IRP, the government hopes to generate an additional 1,000 MW from coal, 2,500 MW from hydropower, 5,600 MW from wind, 8,100 MW from solar PV and 8,100 MW from gas by 2030. “This approach … provides the necessary policy certainty while creating the space for all of us to engage in detail on the impending energy transition and the options available to us as South Africa,” said the minister.

The proposed energy mix

The IRP 2030 draft proposes significant changes in South Africa’s energy mix, with the changes affecting electricity infrastructure and as a result, electricity planning beyond 2030. Among the main concerns in this transformation are the economic implications, with Eskom already announcing the utility’s plans to cut 7,000 jobs by 2023.

Minister Radebe said the resultant energy mix by 2030 would consist of coal (34,000 MW, 46 percent of the total), nuclear (1,860 MW, 2.5 percent), hydropower (4,696MW, 6 percent), pump storage (2,912 MW, 4 percent), photovoltaic solar (7,958 MW, 10 percent), wind (11,442 MW, 15 percent), concentrated solar power (600 MW, 1 percent), and natural gas (11,930 MW, 16 percent.)

South Africa’s Minister of Energy Hon. Jeff Radebe will speak at the Africa Oil & Power 2018 conference in Cape Town on September 5-7. Register here for the conference.